Tributes are pouring in for one of the developing world’s foremost climate negotiators, who died this week just days after advancing efforts to improve the environmental integrity of the voluntary carbon markets.
Hugh Sealy, 59, passed away on Friday, according to a statement by Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, which he represented as special envoy for climate change. His cause of death was not made public.
A dual Barbadian-Canadian citizen, Sealy was also an academic at the University of the West Indies, a senior carbon market negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island Developing States (AOSIS) at UN climate negotiations since 2009, and most recently co-chair of the private-sector-led Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (IC-VCM).
“I have lost a true friend and trusted advisor, and Barbados, the region, and small island developing states across the globe have lost one of their most passionate and qualified defenders when it comes to the environment and the impact of climate change on the earth’s ability to sustain its people,” said Mottley, who has known Sealy since they attended primary school together.
Quamrul Chowdury, a senior climate negotiator for Bangladesh, said in a LinkedIn post that Sealy’s passing “would definitely erode the quality of the negotiations skills of the developing countries especially the most climate vulnerable countries”.
“Hugh Sealy was one of those people who make a real difference, who make things happen, as he did with determination over several years to get an agreement on the question of markets and non-market approaches under the Paris Agreement,” said Paul Watkinson, a senior climate negotiator for France.
Sealy held significant experience in carbon markets, elected as a member of the Executive Board of the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in 2008 and 2011, serving as chair of the Kyoto Protocol mechanism’s small-scale working group where he conceptualised and implemented new rules of eligibility for micro-scale projects and a development fund designed to support poor nations.
“This is a big loss to climate change community and in particular the community of carbon markets … You will be dearly missed,” said Perumal Arumugam, a senior UNFCCC carbon market official who worked closely with Sealy both at the CDM and in co-facilitating negotiations under the Article 6 international emissions trading provision of the Paris Agreement.
With the Article 6 rulebook completed at last November’s COP26 climate negotiations, Sealy intended to continue working on carbon markets, having been appointed as co-chair of the IC-VCM two months earlier.
As recently as last Wednesday, Sealy had participated in a virtual event outlining the IC-VCM’s plans to release its standards intending to get a global benchmark for carbon offset quality.
“If we build high integrity, scale will follow … but to do that, we must listen and learn from many different sources of knowledge and experience in the market and society at large,” Sealy told the event.
“He was a true champion in the fight against climate change and his leadership has been instrumental in the Integrity Council’s early success. He will be deeply missed,” the IC-VCM said in a LinkedIn post.
Below are several more tributes.
Incredibly sad to hear of the passing of Dr Hugh Sealy. It was a privilege to have his expertise and voice advocating for small islands in climate discussions, his impact and service is immeasurable. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and country 🙏🏾 https://t.co/MLQutRQ8Vy
— AOSIS (@AOSISChair) March 20, 2022
Shocked and deeply saddened by the news of the sudden passing of Dr. Hugh Sealy, colleague and friend, staunch defender of his country, his region and the global environment. Thoughts and prayers with his family. @miaamormottley @barbados @UNFCCC https://t.co/dcMSsXltXi
— Christiana Figueres (@CFigueres) March 20, 2022
We are shocked and saddened to hear the news of Hugh Sealy’s passing. A true force for climate action over many years, and most recently a champion for high-integrity VCMs, Hugh will be sorely missed. It is up to all of us to honour his legacy and continue his important work. https://t.co/JjYKGJ4mRW
— VCMI (@wearevcmi) March 20, 2022
The islands have lost a champion. Hugh Sealy fought for #1point5tostayalive and #climateambition in the UNFCCC trenches, shaping the discussion in every room he entered. He will be missed. https://t.co/1hL30pRMOR
— Tina Stege (@EnvoyRmi) March 20, 2022
I woke up to this. An immense loss to global climate policy, carbon markets, environmental protection and the Caribbean and small island states. On a personal note, I lost a former colleague, a friend of many negotiating sessions through a couple of decades, way too soon. https://t.co/OzxIeQMpMm
— Pedro Martins Barata (@MartinsBarata) March 19, 2022
This is incredibly sad news. Hugh was a powerful & dignified voice for climate action, for SIDS & for Barbados. He will be missed but his legacy will live on
The thoughts of @COP26 Presidency team are with his family & friends
(I’ll miss his cricket chat livening up Article 6!) https://t.co/ltHHdjiYxw
— Archie Young (@archieyounguk) March 19, 2022
By Ben Garside – email@example.com